Youth Philanthropists Honored with 2011 Power of Children Awards
Four young Hoosier philanthropists are being honored for their work during the 2011 Power of Children Awards at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Now in its seventh year, the annual Power of Children Awards will be presented during an awards ceremony on November 4, 2011, to:
• Elizabeth Niemiec of Michigan City, Ind., for the project Little Wish Foundation
• Nathaniel Montgomery Osborne VI of Carmel, Ind., for Ken-Ya Help Us?
• Jill Osterhus of Munster, Ind., for Educate Jamaica
• Krystal Shirrell of Brownsburg, Ind., for VETSupport (Veterans have Earned our Thanks and Support)
“These four extraordinary youths represent the power of young people to make a difference in the world,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. “Whether they are making a difference in their own community or around the world, each of these young people is making a significant positive contribution to our world. The work they are doing is truly representative of The Power of Children.”
The Power of Children Awards recognize Indiana youths who are making significant contributions and providing countless hours of volunteer service to better their communities. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis created The Power of Children Awards in 2004 with inspiration from the exhibit The Power of Children: Making a Difference. This moving exhibit focuses on Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White, who touched the world with their courage and perseverance. The Children’s Museum uses these awards to honor and empower middle- and high-school students who have made a significant impact on the lives of others, demonstrated selflessness, and exhibited a commitment to service and the betterment of society.
To be considered for The Power of Children Awards, Hoosier youths in grades 6 through 11 were nominated by adults 21 or older who reside in Indiana. Nominees are required to have created their projects individually and to have actively participated in their projects during the 2010-2011 school year.
Each of the 2011 winners will receive a $2,000 grant to further his or her exemplary philanthropic work and a four-year post-secondary scholarship for a participating Indiana-based institution of higher learning. They may choose to receive a Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarship to be used for post-secondary education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) or a scholarship from the University of Indianapolis. During the awards ceremony, the winners’ pictures and videos will be unveiled on the “Making a Difference” wall in The Power of Children exhibit at the Museum.
The Deborah Joy Simon Charitable Trust has generously provided a major gift to continue to support the establishment and continuation of The Power of Children Awards. Additional support has been provided by Brightpoint, Crowe Horwath LLP, Duke Energy, Herff Jones, IUPUI, Kroger Foundation, Julia and Joseph Edward Mulholland Jr., State Auto Insurance Companies, University of Indianapolis, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and WISH-TV 8. The 2011 awards ceremony will again be emceed by Joy Dumandan of 24-Hour News 8.
2011 Power of Children Award winners:
Michigan City resident Elizabeth Niemiec describes herself as always having had the desire to help people. This fact became apparent to her when, in 2010, her fifth grade teacher’s son, Max, lost his battle with a rare kidney cancer. Elizabeth promised that she would make a positive impact in the lives of children who suffered as Max had. Elizabeth saw the impact a little wish of Max’s – to have a dog – had on him and she wanted to grant similar wishes for other children stricken with cancer. Within a matter of months Elizabeth had formed her own non-profit organization, the Little Wish Foundation, to grant little wishes for these children.
Since its formation in 2010, the Little Wish Foundation has raised more than $37,000 through fundraising efforts. This funding has helped grant twelve wishes for local children including items such as iPods, laptops, Blu-ray DVD players, and gaming systems. The foundation is currently working with the South Bend Children’s Memorial Hospital with the goal to expand to children’s hospitals nationwide.
Nathaniel Montgomery Osborne VI
As a high school student in Indianapolis at Brebeuf Jesuit, senior Nathaniel (Nate) Osborne is helping to provide high school tuition for orphans and vulnerable children an entire continent away. In 2008, Nate co-founded the Ken-Ya Help Us? project to help address the tuition needs of students in Kenya after being motivated by his mother who encouraged him to do something beyond himself.
The Ken-Ya Help Us? project has raised more than $65,000 in the past three years and is currently supporting 100+ orphans. The group has also grown to include more than 200 volunteers including both adult mentors and youth leaders who help plan fundraisers and awareness campaigns. This year alone, Ken-Ya Clubs have been started at four area high schools including Brebeuf Jesuit, Carmel, North Central and Avon High Schools.
In 2009, Nate visited Kenya and met some of the children supported by his work. Nate was impacted by his trip and saw that “education is their hope for a better life and often schools provide the only meal they receive each day.”
During a family vacation to Jamaica in 2009, Jill Osterhus learned of a lack of school supplies and textbooks for the local schools. In May of that year Jill began collecting gently used school supplies, books, and textbooks to send to the children of Jamaica. During her school’s annual locker clean-out, she was able to put collection bins in the halls to collect unused supplies which would have otherwise been thrown away. By that summer alone, Jill had collected 500 lbs. of books. With help from the Sandals Foundation, Jill was able to ship all of the collected supplies and send them to schools in Jamaica.
Since starting her project, Educate Jamaica, Jill has been able to return to Jamaica to hand deliver supplies and see first-hand how her efforts have benefited one of the local schools. Jill has committed more than 200 hours to her project through collecting and packing supplies, raising funds and creating a website dedicated to her efforts. Jill is now a sophomore student at Munster High School and she plans to continue her project to benefit students in Jamaica for years to come.
After attending a Veteran’s Day banquet in 2009, Krystal Shirrell, of Brownsburg, was inspired to support and encourage the needs of Veterans going through dialysis and their need to help control body temperature. Krystal began making patriotic lab blankets to serve this need. During a delivery trip for her blankets Krystal heard about the Domiciliary for homeless Veterans and learned more about the needs of this group.
Krystal decided to form Veterans have Earned our Thanks and Support (VETSupport) to help veterans in need. Through VETSupport Krystal works to make blankets to present to veterans, hosts monthly Bingo nights for residents at the Domiciliary and has designed ‘thank you’ coloring sheets for elementary students to decorate as a way to thank a Veteran. Krystal has also worked with a knitting group in her hometown and has taught both young people and the elderly to make blankets. She even helped students write service learning grants and implement a service drive to collect items for the Domiciliary.
Through her Power of Children Award Krystal hopes to further educate and involve others to reach her goal of every Veteran being thanked and the homeless problem being eliminated.
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